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As Pandemic Restrictions Continue to Lift, Most Consumers Willing to Pay More for Safer Environment

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As pandemic-induced restrictions are lifted across the country, including mask mandates and social distancing, many Americans are feeling uncomfortable or anxious about face-to-face interactions.

A survey from text messaging platform SlickText revealed that consumers have different comfort levels about attending events and interacting with people in public spaces. As safety remains a concern, 73% of respondents said they would be willing to foot an additional charge for greater safety protocols or enhanced cleaning.

Majority of consumers willing to pay more for greater safety protocols

How much more are Americans willing to pay for services or goods to cover increased precautions? 45% of respondents said they are willing to pay up to a 10% increase. Here is a deeper breakdown:

  • Up to a 5% increase: 21%
  • Up to a 10% increase: 24%
  • Up to a 15% increase: 12%
  • Up to a 20% increase: 9%
  • More than 20% increase: 6%
  • Not willing to pay more: 27%

Nearly half of Americans are anxious about post-COVID-19 interactions

A separate survey from the American Psychological Association found that 49% of Americans expressed uneasiness about post-pandemic face-to-face interactions. Adults who received the COVID-19 vaccine were just as anxious about this as those who did not receive a vaccine (48% versus 49%, respectively).

SlickText respondents said continuing to wear a mask is the top safety measure that can be implemented before they feel comfortable meeting in large groups. (Note: The SlickText survey was conducted before updates to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC — guidelines on masks for vaccinated Americans.) The other top safety measures included more rigorous disinfecting and touchless options, from ticketing to purchases.

When respondents were asked where businesses were falling short in their COVID-19 responses, 28% cited social distancing. That was followed by:

  • Offering touchless payment options (19%)
  • Doing thorough contact tracing (18%)
  • Enforcing local COVID-19 guidelines (16%)
  • Providing updates about changes to hours or offerings (14%)
Ready to wine and dine: Nearly half of respondents said they’ve already dined out, while 10% were planning to wait six months or longer to do so. The SlickText survey broke out certain responses by state. It found that respondents from Florida and New York said they’ll be ready to attend a concert within two months, while those in other states said they’re going to wait longer for live performances.

The case for touchless options

More than half of respondents said they preferred touchless payment options. Customers may also prefer a text or pulling up a menu on their phone rather than a paper pamphlet. Consumers can consider the following to minimize touching at checkouts:

  • Look into credit cards with contactless payment features
  • Download Google Pay or Apple Pay on your phone
  • Skip the signature at checkout if provided the option

Californians more comfortable with air travel than New Yorkers, while men are more comfortable about attending live sports

The survey also provided various breakdowns based on state and gender.

For example, 29% of survey respondents in California said they’re already comfortable with air travel, while 25% of New York respondents said they’ll be waiting at least six months before flying.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of men (29%) said they would feel comfortable attending live sports within two months, but 30% of women said they are going to wait at least six months before doing so. Separately, men and women both feel comfortable venturing out to a museum to see an exhibit.

Methodology: On March 30, 2021, SlickText — which has headquarters in Jamestown, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn. — fielded an online survey from 1,100 participants.